By Brian Murphy
It took the opportunity to play college basketball — and be one of the first in his family to go to college — for Darnell Taylor to get motivated in the classroom.
"It's been a hard grind, a long road. I messed up in high school a lot," said Taylor, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard for Saddleback Community College. "I tried to change my ways, picking it up. It's been a long road for everybody."
It has paid off. Taylor committed to Boise State and will join the Broncos for the 2013-14 season, their first in the Big West Conference. He was being recruited by USC and Fresno State and had offers from UTEP and Utah Valley.
"It means a lot," Taylor said. "When I went to JC, I thought I was going to be stuck. I thought everybody was going to forget about me. It means a lot that whoever was trying to recruit me."
Taylor, a combo guard, averaged a team-high 13.3 points per game and had 4.5 rebounds per game for Saddleback last season. He was second on the team with 2.9 assists per game.
"They’re getting a tremendous athlete with tremendous upside,” said Ed Waters, Taylor's high school coach at Crenshaw High in Los Angeles.
Waters said Taylor has one of the "most unbelievable journeys that I've coached." He was academically ineligible to play early in his high school career.
"He fought through those challenges," Waters said.
Waters credits Taylor's father, Charlie, with helping guide his son throughout his career.
"He has been the rock for him through all these challenges," Waters said. "He is someone who never gave up even when Darnell was questioning his future."
Said Charlie: "My son has come a long way. ... He's a strong player with the ability to do many things — shoot, rebound, pass, defend. He's a smart player also."